Skip to main content

Future MBA

100 seeds for a sustainable future: Part 10

A sustainable campus in Denmark saves $5.3 million, the University of Oxford cuts a third of emissions and a business school teaches brave leadership.

In 2014, author and TEDx speaker Giselle Weybrecht posted one short idea a day for 100 days exploring how we could rethink business education to produce the leaders that our business and the planet need. The ideas were compiled in a book, "The Future MBA: 100 Ideas for Making Sustainability the Business of Business Educations." As a companion to the ideas in the book, GreenBiz will post 10 examples of how schools around the world are bringing some of these ideas to life, creating new opportunities for people and the planet. This is the last installment of the 10-week series. The series can be found here. 

Day 91: Giants of innovation

The GIANT Innovation Campus includes 618 acres of research, technology research, companies and higher educational institutions such as Grenoble Ecole de Management in France. The goal of the campus is to offer solutions to the challenges of tomorrow in the field of information technology, communication, energy and health. The campus includes two national research organizations, three key European research facilities and three educational institutions. It also represents 30 company partners as well as competitive clusters, local authorities and other public organizations. In total, Giant involves more than 6,000 researchers and 5,000 students. Many collaborative projects have come out of this joint campus, including a massive open online course (MOOC) on energy transition and sustainable development. 

Day 92: Sustainability Week

Sustainability Week is the largest student-run sustainability program in Switzerland. Now in its fourth year, it is organized by more than 60 students from five universities, which collectively have over 55,000 students in ETH Zurich, Universitat Zurich, PHZH and Zurich University of the Arts. Over the past few years, it has organized upwards of 120 events, all free of charge and open to the public, with the aim of reaching and informing as many students as possible on campus and around the city. The event also has the goal of connecting the five universities around concrete sustainability demands.

Day 93: Campus campaign

The University of Copenhagen in Denmark has set out ambitious targets for sustainability, which are designed to make it one of the world’s most sustainable universities. The strategy focuses on the physical setting — such as buildings and facilities — using the campus as a living laboratory for the development of tomorrow’s sustainability solutions. The aim is to create a culture that encourages students and staff to practice sustainable behavior every day. More recent goals include a 65 percent reduction of CO2 emissions from energy consumption and transportation, a 20 percent reduction in waste and recycling half of waste produced, and reducing the university’s pollution and chemical environmental impact, to name just a few initiatives. The university’s accounting shows that since 2006, its sustainability efforts have resulted in an annual savings of nearly $5.3 million.

The University of Copenhagen's accounting shows that since 2006, its sustainability efforts have resulted in an annual savings of nearly $5.3 million.

Day 94: Mindfulness and courage

In Italy, ISTUD Business School offers series of courses that aim to cultivate mindfulness and courage at the executive and senior management level. The courses aim to leverage various intellectual and cognitive dimensions beyond the technical aspects of the managerial profession, aiming to widen and enrich the professional culture and personal development of managers.

The first course helps cultivate a mindful attitude. This means to develop awareness of what happens to us in the present moment, increase our ability to manage and respond to functional contexts and stressful conditions and to learn to direct and focus attention without being distracted by internal or external stimuli. The second course, about the art of courage, provides the basic tools for acting with courage in front of the unexpected while developing confidence in people while understanding their own mental models.

Day 95: Innovation and invention

The University of Oxford has developed a Living Lab to support the university’s transition towards a sustainable, resilient and low-carbon campus; facilitate world-class research; guide and improve practice, and enhance real-world learning. Its Carbon Innovation Programme establishes multidisciplinary teams of staff and students working collaboratively to identify new, innovative ideas to help reduce carbon emissions across the university. The Living Lab and the resulting projects support Oxford’s Carbon Management Strategy and assist in achieving its target of reducing carbon emissions by 33 percent by 2020/21 from a 2005/6 baseline. 

Day 96: A world of good

Thunderbird for Good, a part of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, was launched in 2004 with the idea to provide learning opportunities for Afghan businesswomen. Today, the initiative educates students from emerging markets around the world through a range of programs to help female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Peru and Central America. All the programs focus on interactive business training and practical skills such as planning, negotiation, marketing and employee management. By collaborating with local partners, they also provide assistance in accessing capital (through their various partners) as well as on-on-one business advising and mentorship and access to a network of like-minded women. More than 30,000 participants have attended these programs at Thunderbird’s campus in the U.S.

Day 97: Green fleets

James Cook University’s (JCU) innovative Green Bike Fleet program gives new love to abandoned or unwanted bikes. The Fleet has restored over 400 second-hand bikes and sells them at a low cost to JCU students; the program is so popular that bikes are often in short supply. Students also have the option of returning their bike at the end of the year for a reimbursement. Additionally, the school has created an environment with a wide network of bike lanes, free bike mechanic services, a support group for cyclists and plenty of bike parking and shower facilities. For those who don’t get their hands on a Green Bike, a popular bike share program is on all three of JCU’s campuses.

The Living Lab and the resulting projects support Oxford’s Carbon Management Strategy and assist in achieving its target of reducing carbon emissions by 33 percent by 2020/21.

Day 98: Parity

The University of Leicester is engaged in the HeForShe Impact 10x10x10 cohort, a group that convenes 10 heads of state, 10 global CEOs and 10 university presidents to fast-track gender equality in boardrooms, classrooms and world capitals. The university is committed to closing the gap between men and women in key academic and career areas, to degenderize career options, to make public conversations around gender, provide transparency about their activities and actively monitor progress on these issues. The campaign was kick-started with hundreds of ideas crowdsourced by students and staff at the university exploring how to create a culture of gender equality on campus. This has resulted in, among other things, a senior level staff position with responsibility to oversee implementation of these ideas and commitments.

Day 99: Divesting

The York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment believes that the integration of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into investment management processes and ownership practices is wise and aligned with the university’s commitment to sustainability, social justice and good governance.  The committee has created a platform to hear the concerns expressed by those in their community regarding the investment of the university’s endowment fund, identify companies that may be involved in activities contrary to its principles and beliefs, advise on where and how the university should invoke proxy voting, advise about circumstances in which stocks held by the university may cause social or environmental injury and work with a range of like-minded shareholder groups and coalitions.

Day 100: Implementing sustainability projects

The Sustainability Integration Program (SIPS) at the University of Tasmania has the dual aim of providing opportunities for students to apply their learning to real-world sustainability while earning income or credits, and to assist the school as a whole to have a positive environmental impact. Operational, academia or individual students can participate and their ideas are integrated into research projects, in class activities and assignments. For example, if there is an operational need for a waste audit, the project will connect to academics and students to implement it. This is a great way to have a direct result on campus while engaging students in operational activities.

More on this topic

More by This Author